Category Archives: Food

Summer Solstice Happiest Day Of The Year

Plants are more connected to the summer solstice than humans. Plant cells contain microscopic amounts of phytochrome, a light-sensitive pigment that actually enables plants to reckon the length of daylight.

When the length of daylight the “photoperiod” falls below a certain critical level, the leaves of a maple tree spontaneously start changing colors. The result is a breathtaking spectacle, especially in New England.

The behavior of animals is strongly tied to the length of daylight.
For instance, when the photoperiod reaches 12.5 hours of sunlight per day which in the U.S. happens in late March the gonads of male and female hamsters instantly begin revving up. When the photoperiod falls below 12.5 hours of daylight in mid-September, the reproductive machinery begins shrinking and slowing down.
Now was that hamster information useful information?

Length of daylight which maxes out on the summer solstice also triggers many other important animal traits and behaviors. Everything from the color of animal fur to the timing of animal migrations.

Scientists have also come to learn the huge importance of daylight to our own mental and emotional well being. A recent, experiment evaluated the emotional content of tweets from 2.4 million people worldwide for nearly two years.
Researchers found that, all other things being equal, as the length of daylight increases, so does a person’s general level of happiness.
Everything else being equal, therefore, the summer solstice is arguably the happiest day on Earth.

The perfect mindset for participating in all those over-the-top solstice celebrations.

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Skunk In My Coreopsis

Coreopsis, sometimes rightly or wrongly called garden tickseed, golden tickseed, or plains Coreopsis are in bloom. A ready made feast for hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.

This is a native wildflower that can become an invasive plant. As with many plants it can be considered a wildflower or a damn old weed if it spreads to places that it is unwanted.

Skunks are one of those critters that I truly detest. I can find no redeeming benefit to having skunk(s) any where with in a mile of my hen house.

For more than a week I have been smelling the faint aroma of a skunk when I go to my hen house for feeding and to gather eggs.
So I have been on the hunt for this unwanted critter for more than a week.

This morning in broad daylight about 9AM I saw my unwanted guest making it’s way as I watched through my picture window view of Coreopsis, he was headed for the henhouse.

My tool of choice for such an event is a 60 or 70 year old Remington pump shotgun loaded with #2 shot. The skunk was distracted by the smell and sounds of a fresh chicken meal to hear or care that I had stepped out on my back porch. He (no I did not look to verify it was a male) was about 50 yards away, really out of range for a shotgun. I waited until the skunk had closed to about 30 yards before I give him a lethal dose of #2 steel shot.

Now me, chickens, ducks, goose and dogs will sleep better tonight.

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Beet Root makes any meal special

If your a fan or maybe not of beet roots this pickled beet recipe will add a new twist to salads or as a side dish to many meals.

What you will need.
1 – can small whole beets. (well drained)
1 – pint canning jar with new lid and screw ring.
1 or 2 cloves (no more than 2)
1 whole garlic clove (optional) Do not crush. mince or slice
1/2 cup 5% acid vinegar of your choice (white, cider or wine vinegar)
1/2 cup distilled water (tap water will work)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat your canning jar.
Bring enough water to cover your jar to a boil and remove from the burner.
Place you jar in the water to preheat.

Canning mix.
In a small pan add vinegar, water, cloves, sugar and salt.
Bring to a boil, remove from heat an stir until salt and sugar is dissolved.

Packing you jar.
Remove your preheated jar from the pan of hot water.
Pack with small whole beets and garlic clove (if used).

When vinegar mix comes to a boil remove from heat and very carefully pour hot vinegar mix over your beets.
Leave 1/2 inch head space in your jar. (add more vinegar as required to fill canning jar)
Cap jar and tighten jar screw ring.

Allow beets to cool to room temperature.
Refrigerate for 24 to 72 hours before serving.
Pickled beets can safely be kept sealed up to 3 months. Consume within 1 month after opening jar.

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Something for ‘almost’ every gardener

April was an unusually cool April for my tiny zone 7b garden.

60 degrees F is kind of, sort of the magic soil temperature needed for many garden vegetable seeds to germinate. It was the last week of April before we approached the 60 degree soil tempeture.

May arrived and my soil has warmed to 71 degrees F and it is still a month until the start of the summer gardening season. Leaving plenty of time for most gardeners to plant summer and fall producing vegetable gardens.

I’m happy with our bamboo project. We planted bamboo in a well contained garden plot about 25 feet long by 12 feet wide near Christmas time 2015 and I have been concerned that I wasted my money on two 6 inch pots of bamboo. However after 2 summers of putting down a good root system this spring bamboo canes have jumped up and some canes are more than 11 feet tall and still growing taller everyday.

I invite new visitors to my tiny blog to search my previous posting. At sometime in the past I have information about almost every vegetable from A – Z as wells as info on raising chickens, rabbits, composting and water saving irrigation ideas.

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Backyard flock of laying hens are good for your health

Nutrition journal guidelines for egg consumption eggs make a healthy, affordable and tasty meal. Research has revealed just how many eggs is safe to eat in a week.

Grandma said “eat your breakfast biscuits with butter, jelly or jam, gravy, maybe a few slices of bacon or sausage patty’s as well in addition to your healthy 2 egg breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day.”

Good news for lovers of a frittata or scramble, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found there were no adverse effects from having as many as 12 over seven days.

They discovered that even participants with type-2 diabetes did not suffer adverse effects from eating a diet high in eggs such as inflammation, cardiometabolic risk levels or raised glucose levels.

Eggs particularly the yolk are high in fat, they are full of vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy omega-3 fats. The yolk is packed with nutrients, so there’s no need to opt for egg-whites only.
Eggs do not significantly raise cholesterol in the blood, the Mayo Clinic reports, and people who replace a grain-based breakfast with eggs have been found to eat fewer calories over the day.

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Better Late Than Never, Spring Is In The Air

It’s a week past my normal last frost date and maybe, just maybe I have had my last spring frost. A few nights ago it went down to 26 degrees F. and did a lot of damage to tender new plant buds and plants that had leafed out. It, the frost, has set my grapes back at least 1 if not 2 weeks.

Hummingbirds have started arriving. Everyday it seems that I have one or two more than the day before visiting my feeders.
Just my opinion but I think it is a good investment to buy feeders with what sellers call bee and wasp guards. After replacing my old style feeders with new feeders with bee guards having bees and wasp feeding at my hummingbird feeders is no longer a problem me and the hummingbirds must contend with.

The Purple Martin house is open and raise to a height of about 12 feet. My first pair of Martins arrived Saturday and have given their nod of approval.

Chicken have finished molting and have started laying about 1 egg per bird everyday. Just for the record I have 4 hens that are now 4 years old and 3 that are 2 years old.
Grin … now me and extended family have more eggs than we can eat every week and that’s a good thing.
Smiling… as my hens get to old to be useful egg producers, I keep putting out feed and they become yard ornaments for my viewing pleasure.

Cataract surgery on my left eye went well. I’m seeing things that I have not seen well for at least 4 or 5 years. I have a followup doctors visit set for the 18th and he will operate on my right eye on the morning of the 25th.

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Spring is in the air … Not yet but soon ……

Spring is in the air … Not yet but soon …… It’s still almost a week until our last average frost date.
A cold front arrived yesterday afternoon bringing with it 27 (-2.75C) degree temperatures, north winds 25 gusting to 35 mph (40 to 56 kph). Weatherman is forecasting 40 percent chance of Snow/Sleet today.

My soil tempeture is 54 degrees, still to cool for most garden seed to germinate. Grin… but the winter grass and chickweed is doing just fine thank you.

My window box planter project is on hold until the wind dies down and daytime outdoor temperatures are reaching into the 70’s.

Doctor has finished all of his test and will remove cataract from left eye on the 11 of April then do the same for my right eye on the 25th of April.
FYI: Cataract is a cloudy or opaque area in the normally clear lens of the eye it can interfere with normal vision. Most cataracts develop in people over age 55. Usually cataracts develop in both eyes, but one may be worse than the other as in my case.

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Vinegar as a herbicide – Not what you may think

Available alternative products, non-glyphosate based products rarely generate 100% weed control. They perform better on broadleaf weeds than grassy weeds. They are best used in conjunction with optimizing cultural practices such as improving soil health, turf/plant nutrition, irrigation, cultivar election, proper moving, and seeding/plant establishment and overseeding. Avoiding conditions that favor weeds (compacted soils, overwatering, excessive or ill-timed nitrogen applications) and adjusting soil pH to favor desirable plants over weeds increased effectiveness. Most alternative herbicide products are not chemicals, so they are exempt from EPA pesticide registration.

Alternative herbicides fall into 7 product categories: Natural acids (vinegar + citric acids), Herbicidal soaps, Iron-based herbicides, Salt-based herbicides, phytotoxic oils (clove, peppermint, pine, citronella), corn gluten, and combination products (including ingredients from multiple categories).

Alternative herbicides may not be regarded as long term single application herbicides like glyphosate, but as short term “burn-down” products. An initial germination treatment followed by spot treatments later in the season is necessary to minimize persisting perennial weeds. A single application once (or twice) a year is not sufficient to keep “trim” areas (pavement, sidewalk cracks, skin surfaces on playing fields, etc) weed free. Moreover, the cost of alternative products may be higher compared to glyphosate:
higher per application and more applications per year , resulting in higher labor expenses. Alternative herbicides also require higher volumes of water, higher volume pumps and larger nozzles on sprayers.

Ways to improve effectiveness when using alternative herbicides include:
•Thorough spray coverage (to runoff); A large, flat nozzle (ie. 8006) is preferable in turfgrass production
•Add the high label amount of surfactant/adjuvant to improve control
•Treat when weeds are small (2-5 leaves)
•Repeat applications for larger weeds are necessary in most instances.
•Lower concentrations at high spray volumes (i.e. 10% concentration in 70 gallons per acre) appear to be more effective than high concentrations at low spray volumes (i.e.20% concentration in 35 gallons per acre).
From an economical perspective, alternative herbicides cost more than chemical herbicides due to the concentrations and number of applications required. For example, a lawn study in NY found that acetic acid herbicides were more than three times more costly on a square foot basis than glyphosate.

Another study by the U. Mass Transportation Center, showed that glyphosate cost ~$20/mile to control weeds along roadways. They also found that alternative materials (Citric Acid, Acetic Acid, Clove Oil, Scythe® , etc) varied in cost from $360 to $2400 per mile.

Vinegar – Acetic acid, commonly known as vinegar, but also known as ethanoic acid, affects the cell membranes of a plant, causing rapid breakdown/desiccation of foliage tissue on contact.
Herbicidal vinegar is stronger than household vinegar, the acetic acid concentration for herbicidal use is 10 -20%, compared to 5% (household) acetic acid. Acetic acids of 8% or less inert ingredient are exempt from registration by the EPA as a pesticide under EPA Minimum Risk Pesticide, FIFRA. Most states require registration for use of acetic acid as a pesticide.

PROs:
•Excellent control when contacting very small annual broadleaf weeds
•Rapid kill rate (Over 90% of treated plants should die within 24 hours).
•Acetic acid products break down quickly in the environment.
•Most useful for managing weeds in gravel and on patios/sidewalks.
•These contact herbicides fit into an integrated pest management program; although weeds require monitoring for best control timing.
•Non selective, but mainly kill broadleaf weeds. Burns back grasses temporarily.

CONS:
•No residual activity. Will kill or damage any plants they touch.
•Weeds must be small (timing is important – within 2 weeks of germination)
•Roots are not killed; repeat applications are needed for larger weeds and perennial weeds
•Good spray coverage is essential (70 GPA+)
•Sharp vinegar odor may be unpleasant
•Spray equipment must be cleaned after application, particularly metal equipment. Avoid using spray equipment with metal working parts such as metal spray lines or metal nozzles.
•Spray drift may damage desirable plants.
•Do not apply to reactive metals such as aluminum, tin, iron, and items such as fencing or lawn furniture. Avoid spraying the material onto masonry sidewalks and structures. If the product contacts these surfaces, staining, mottling, etching, or other harm to the finishes or surfaces may occur.
•Do not apply more frequently than every two weeks
•Treatments must be delayed 24-48 hours or more after rain
•Severe eye irritation, burns, and possible irreversible damage potential. Vinegars with acetic acid concentrations of 11% or greater can burn the skin and cause severe eye injury, including blindness.
•Severe skin irritation and possible allergic sensitization.
•Prolonged or repeated exposure may cause dermatitis, chronic bronchitis, and erosion of teeth.

SUMMARY
Research has found that 5-10% acetic acid herbicide products can give viable control of very small, young weeds that have only 1-2 leaves (or within 2 weeks of germination). Larger weeds (with 3-4 leaves) are likely to survive treatment, but using higher (20%) concentrations of acetic acid and increasing the application volume (from 20 to 100 gpa) can improve weed control. Total crabgrass and grass weed control in a 2006 USDA study occurred with 20% acetic acid applied at 100 gpa, resulting in weed control that ranged from 28 to 45%. Multiple applications improve long term control. Broadleaf and annual weeds tend to be more susceptible than grassy weeds and perennial weeds, which show initial signs of damage but generally recover. Nonetheless, using acetic acid on weeds with tap roots (dandelions, Canada thistle), may only result in top kill unless the weed is very young.

COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE ACETIC ACID PRODUCTS
Check with your state to determine if a product is registered to be used as a pesticide.
Bradfield Natural Horticultural Vinegar – 20% vinegar (acetic acid) + yucca extract. (Bradfield
Organics) NOT OMRI Listed Burn-out – 25% acetic acid (St. Gabriel Laboratories).

Grotek Elimaweed Weed And Grass Killer – 7.15% acetic acid (GREENSTAR PLANT PRODUCTS)

Maestro Gro’s Organic Vinegar. 20% acetic acid (Ag Organics/Nature’s Wisdom) 1 gal %15.79

Natural Weed Control – 0.2% citric acid, 8% acetic acid + water. (Nature’s Wisdom/Ag Organics).

Soil Mender 10% Vinegar – 10% acetic acid (made from grain alcohol and not from glacial acetic acid), orange oil, molasses, and a natural surfactant.

Vinagreen Natural Non Selective Herbicide- 20% acetic acid (CMC Chemical)

Weed Pharm Fast Acting Weed And Grass Killer – 20% vinegar (acetic acid) (PharmSolutions.

Things you may or may not know about Glyphosate

Glyphosate was patented by Monsanto under the trade name ‘RoundUp’ in 1974. Glyphosate is now widely available from many manufacturers under numerous trade names after patent protection ended in 2000: RoundUp, KleenUp, Accord, Imitator, Eraser, Pronto, Rodeo, etc.. There are over 750 products containing glyphosate for sale in the U.S according to the National Pesticide Information Center.

As a non-selective herbicide, glyphosate will kill most plants it contacts. Accordingly, it can be used for vegetation cleanup prior to all types of planting, e.g. field/bed/turfgrass preparation or renovation. It can be spot sprayed for general weed control or sprayed directly over top of specific crops at certain times of year (e.g. over Christmas trees/conifers in the fall). No other herbicide works as well on perennial grasses as glyphosate particularly late in the season.

Glyphosate does not leach through soil like some herbicides and has low mammalian toxicity, it has been considered to be very safe toxicologically and environmentally, with hundreds of studies showing the active ingredient to be less acutely toxic than common table salt or aspirin.
The EPA does not consider glyphosate to be a human carcinogen.

If you have a problem with the Glyphosate information above, take your concerns to the USDA, FDA, EPA or Monsanto

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USDA Zone 7 – Purple Martin’s and Hummingbirds have been seen

As far north as USDA zone 7, Purple Martin scout birds and nesting pairs have been seen checking out nest sites.

Hummingbirds have been seen at feeders put out for early returning birds.

It’s time to clean and sanitize housing and feeders.
Cheap Hummingbird ‘nectar’ can be homemade. Cheap and easy, 1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup water – 1/2 cup sugar to 2 cups water or if you are feeding many birds 1 cup sugar to 4 cups water.

Bring water to a boil, remove from heat and add sugar, stir until sugar is dissolved.
No Not boil sugar water, your not making syrup.

Caution Experts in this area say ‘NEVER’ use Honey to make feeder nectar or add food coloring to your homemade feeder nectar.
Both can and often does kill Hummingbirds.

Soap Box Corner
Children, teens under the age of 18 years of age can not:
Buy a handgun, cigarettes, alcohol products like beer and wine , drive trucks or join the military.
They can not sign a legal binding contract.
Those under 16 can not obtain a drivers license or drive a car.

Below the age of 18 they are not mature enough to make ‘adult’ decisions.
Why then are we allowing them to make ‘adult’ decisions about sexual relations that will effect them for the next 70 or 80 years?

Our European friends take age for sexual consent even lower.
Europe, with countries setting different legal ages of consent:

14: years old: Austria, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal
15: France Greece, Poland, Sweden
16: Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Russia and the UK
17: Cyprus

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Garlic – Spring planting for Fall harvest

For my gardening friends. You can still plant garlic for late summer and fall harvest. If your soil is not frozen solid. Dig and loosen your soil, till in compost if you have access to compost. Else stir in a little 5-10-5 or similar N-P-K rated fertilized. Plant your garlic cloves, [Don’t laugh, pointed end up] 2 to 2 1/2 inches deep. Measure from the top of your garlic clove. Space cloves about 4 inches apart.
Cover with mulch if you can. Other wise, wash your hands and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
Growing Hint: Garlic needs from about 180 to 210 growing days from planting to harvest mature garlic bulbs.

Garlic types are either Hard Neck or Soft Neck.
Generally speaking, Hard neck varieties are better suited to be grown in the northern 1/2 of the U.S. Unless you want to harvest ‘garlic ‘scapes’, Soft neck varieties seem to be better suited to the southern 1/2 of the U.S. and seem to store for a longer period of time than hard neck garlic.

Going against what many gardeners say. I have never had any problems planting garlic that I picked up at my supermarket.

Garlic Nutrition :
Raw Garlic – 6 cloves – About Calories: 27
* manganese 15% —– * vitamin B6 13% —– * vitamin C 7%
* copper 6% —– * selenium 5% —– * phosphorus 4%
* calcium 3% —– * vitamin B 13%

There has been many millions of pages written about the good health benefits of garlic. Who am I to go against the opinions of so many expert gardeners and health specialist. A touch of garlic makes everything, except scotch wiskey, taste better.

Hint garlic can be harvested at any size. Try fresh young garlic in your recipes for a different and refreshing flavor. * Use tender young garlic tops finely chopped as a garnish to add flavor and color to pasta dishes.

I didn’t know this: Elephant garlic is not a true garlic, but actually a variant of the garden leek.

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